Welcome to our new feature, Bedford Classic Cars. Every now and then you see a classic car driving around town that turns heads. “Wow! Check that car out! What is that? My brother had one like that. That’s so cool!” Classic cars not only lead to nostalgia, but they have many fans. There is an impressive list of cruise nights around New England to check out. Classic cars even show up in the Bedford Day Parade and are always a hit. We’re starting to explore Classic Cars in Bedford and learn more about them and their owners.
Let’s start with Geoff and his 1965 Blue Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu SS.
I began talking with Geoff in his driveway about his ‘65 Chevelle, he said that in a very broad sense, there are two types of Classic Cars: those that are Restomods, i.e. replacing parts, new engine, newer brakes, suspension etc., and those that are restored back to their original state.
Geoff’s 1965 Chevelle has been restored almost back to its original state with a few updates for safety. He told me there are ways to authenticate parts and numerous chat groups and discussion groups that will help an owner restore their car to showroom condition. While we were talking, someone walked by and excitedly offered, “I love that car!” He’s not the only one who appreciates a restored car, and Geoff enjoys sharing his ‘65 Chevelle with similar aficionados at car shows around the country.
There are also a myriad of shows around the country for Classic Car aficionados. Last year, Geoff drove his ‘65 Chevelle to the Deadwood Kool Nights Classic Car Festival in Deadwood, South Dakota. Mind you, driving a classic car, in original condition across the country in the middle of summer is not an insubstantial undertaking. Think about it: no bluetooth, no GPS, no air conditioning. You get the picture.
However, for Geoff this was a bit of a pilgrimage –for the car. He explained that the car was sold as a new car from a dealership in Yankton SD. Geoff wanted to be sure to stop in Yankton to take a picture of the ‘65 Chevelle at its “birthplace.”
One of the great things about owning a classic car is the opportunity to trace it’s lineage. Geoff has spent some time tracing the provenance of his car, and has had success learning about the early owners. The provenance is pretty interesting. When Geoff reached out to the second owner of the car, he asked Geoff, “Does the car have a .38 bullet hole on the inside of the driver side door?” This caught Geoff a little off guard, and sure enough when he went out and looked, he found a bullet hole! The 2nd owner explained the original owner and his friends were up to some ‘mischief’ one night!
This past June Geoff took the car on another journey, to the 2022 Hot Rod Power Tour. Geoff and his ‘65 Chevelle started in Memphis and worked his way through Alabama, Florida and ended in Georgia.
Geoff says these tours are a great way to connect with people who share a common passion. “You can get to know people from around the country who you otherwise wouldn’t have a chance to meet.”
More of our conversation
Tell me about your car. Make? model? If it is rare, how many were made? How many are left in the world, etc.
Mine is a 1965 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu SS. There were a few models in the Chevelle family (e.g. Chevelle 300, Malibu, El-Camino). This car has its original drivetrain and the relatively rare 327/350 HP (L79) engine option; paired with a 4 speed manual transmission and posi-traction differential. Of the approximately 240,000 Chevelles produced in 1965, there were only ~6000 with the L79 engine option. It is hard to know exactly how many are left but likely not more than a few hundred. All original drivetrain cars like this one with supporting documentation are quite rare. This car is originally from Yankton, South Dakota.
When and where did you buy it?
I bought it at an Indiana-hosted auction (over the phone) in 2017. I was fortunate that the car was very clean and very straight.
What work have you done on it? Do you do it yourself or do you send it out? Or both?
The car had been restored in 2008, but the mechanical aspects had not been addressed. I rebuilt the drivetrain, upgraded the suspension, and made a couple of small upgrades to brakes (for safety) and cooling. The car still has manual steering and manual drum brakes … the same original drivetrain but capable of safely driving long distances on the highway.
Where do you show it?
I go to a few local shows each year. It’s really a matter of when there is free time on a weekend and a show that I am interested in. I have also taken the car on trips to Deadwood, South Dakota in 2021, and to Florida for the 2022 Hotrod Power Tour. The great thing about taking the car on long trips is meeting so many people who have the same, or similar, car. The car –and really any classic car– is a conversation starter wherever you travel with it. The car really brings people together around a common passion/interest … completely independent from any other ideology which is very cool.
Are there clubs for this model?
There is a New England Chevelle & El Camino club, a Mid-Atlantic Chevelle club, and a Northern Ohio Chevelle club. (There are some others, too.) They all have Chevelle & El Camino-specific shows every year which are great for meeting people and finding out small details about the car.
The classic cars are rolling pieces of history. Through the car itself and the stories we hear from so many people, we have a window into life in America more than 50 years ago.
I know there are many more folks here in Bedford who have lovingly restored classic cars. Let me know if you’re one of them. I would love to share your, and your car’s, story.